Archive

  • The Ancient Wisdom of Refundable Tax Credits

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf One of the coolest things about this blog is its emphasis on making complex policy issues accessible to those who never had a chance to learn Tiger-Style Wonk Fu from the ancient masters. As my duty to Ezra's dojo, I here present a list of three things that one can do to reduce people's taxes -- giving them refundable tax credits, giving them nonrefundable tax credits, and giving them tax deductions. I've listed these from best to worst, in order of how much they do to help the poor. What are they, you ask? And why does anyone need to know about them? Patience, Grasshopper: look below the fold and you shall understand.
  • Why You Should Never Believe Polls in June

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math While the rest of the country has only their municipal elections to worry about this year, Virginia and New Jersey. The New Jersey contest will be something of a walk, though Jon Corzine seems to be doing his best to make things interesting. It's Virginia that has the real action this cycle. Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine (D) Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) are locked in a dead-heat in the race for governor. The funny thing is, it hasn't always been this way. If you look at polls taken over the last six months , you'll see Kaine steadily gaining on Kilgore. And if you had looked at the polls in April, you might have given up on Kaine alltogether. This is all a way of saying that it's far, far too early to get excited about Bobby Casey's big lead over Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, fret about Sheldon Whitehouse not getting enough traction against Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island, or wonder why Jon Tester hasn't taken Montana by storm. Most...
  • "Throwing a Tattoo on a Sexpot Makes… a Tattooed Sexpot"

    By Jedmunds Remember when Walt Disney made the here-to-fore seedy carnival safe for children? Or how about when Vince McMahon did the same with professional wrestling in the 1980's? The recent attempts to do something similar with porn by Suicide Girls is being exposed as the rank facade it is. Not that they were trying to make porn safe for children as such, but an attempt to market Suicide Girls, not as something seedy and exploitative, but empowering and alternative, with an almost wholesome fondness for the excessively pierced, tattooed hipster punk rockeress next door. I never really got into the Suicide Girls thing, myself. It seemed too image conscious to be the kind of true amateur porn with which my druthers lie. But compared to the cold sterility of the spread- eagled blonde of plastic proportions in an anonymous drably-lit studio, it seemed like a step in the right direction for mainstream porn, and if not aesthetically, than at least ethically. As it turns out, holding...
  • All Apologies

    By Pepper of the Daily Pepper Has anyone else noticed the sudden burst of "the media exaggerated Hurricane Katrina conditions" stories? On Thursday, "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" wasted a large chunk of time debating whether or not journalists made too much hay out of the chaos at the Superdome and Convention Center. The repugnant Hugh Hewitt was invited as a panelist, which is an indication that PBS is rolling right over in response to those who are saying they're too liberal. Among the many gems of the show, Hewitt said that the week of Katrina coverage "was one of the worst weeks of reporting in the American media.... How can we trust the American media in Iraq? We really can't." ( Powerline absolutely adored those kinds of statements and huzzahed Hewitt's comments.) A message to anyone who says, "The media exaggerated the death toll. It's not so bad": Try telling that to a relative of someone who wasn't injured by Katrina but who went hungry waiting for help. Try telling that to...
  • On Senators

    By Ezra As addendum to my Don't Draft Krugman argument below, it's worth saying that, contrary to the energy we put into senate races, individual senators can really do remarkably little. Think of last cycle's great hopes -- Ken Salazar and Barack Obama. Heard from either lately? The most waves Obama's made have been in the form of a recent rebuke to the blogosphere! And as for the powerhouses? Kennedy, Clinton, and so forth? The closest you get to a recent accomplishment there is Kennedy's cosponsorship of No Child Left Behind. The US Senate is a numbers game. If you have more guys than the other team, you can do a fair amount. If not, it really doesn't matter how many brilliant minds populate your side, they're going to be powerless. And then, when you regain control, those brilliant minds still find their awesome intellects subordinate to the leadership team's agenda and the President's priorities. Indeed, the only place where individual senators make a difference is in election...
  • Don't Draft Krugman 05!

    By Ezra As the nascent call for a Krugman Senate appointment gathers steam , it's worth playing contrarian for a moment and arguing against. What the Democratic party needs is not more folks willing and able to be Senators, we''ve got plenty of cleft-chinned do-gooders happy to take a free Senate-appointment and work diligently to be another smooth cog in the machine. No, what we need are more folks willing and able to effectively project the Democratic message out across an oft-hostile media. Krugman, through his perch at the New York Times , is able to argue the progressive case with neither interruption nor distortion multiple times a week in a paper with huge penetration throughout the rest of the media. That's valuable. As are his frequent appearances in other magazines, books, periodicals, and published venues. On the other hand, Krugman is mediocre as a television personality, which is really the only form of communication open to Senators. Small, fidgety, and high-voiced, his...
  • Strategic Redeployment

    Over at CAP , Larry Korb and Brian Katulis have released a new plan for withdrawal from Iraq, what they call Strategic Redeployment. The plan itself is well presented, fairly intuitive stuff. During Bush's tenure terror attacks have increased, Iraq has gotten worse, our allies have been bombed, and all the rest. From there, it should be clear that the current strategy isn't working, a new approach is needed. Hence, redeployment rather than withdrawal. Korb's plan is presented as a way to enhance our effectiveness in the War on Terror by changing our troop focus and mission priorities, an approach that strikes me as a smart cooption of Bush's conflation of Iraq with the War on Terror. The redeployment itself would: • Take 80,000 troops out of Iraq during 2006; • Demobilize all Guard and Reserve troops so they could focus on Homeland Security; • Take two active brigades (which means up to 20,000 troops) and use them as reinforcements for Afghanistan and African/Asian counterterrorism...
  • DeLayism Redux

    Now, with the Bugman seeming a bit squashed, self-congratulating reformers (particularly Republicans) are happily looking towards a new era of cleanliness and transparency under DeLay's deputy, protege, and close friend Roy Blunt. Said another way, it's time to make my old post on DeLayism new again. As it stands, Democrats are dashing towards a bit of a wall here. DeLay's indictment is on conspiracy, a relatively minor charge that will, at best, link him to the wrongdoing of others. But Tom DeLay is not a bad, hated dude simply because his campaign financing tactics are questionable and his redistricting schemes are Soviet in style. Nah, the issue with DeLay is that he's the Henry Ford of modern Republican politics, and even if the man himself goes down, the assembly line he's constructed will still be manned. Because that's what he is, really, not a powerful guy, but a new way of running and keeping a majority, of integrating industry and activists and politicians annd idea peddlers...
  • Right On Time

    C'mon, you had to know it'd happen. Sooner or later, at least. It's not as if Shakespeare's Sister could keep writing impassioned posts that made you want to run for something, organizing massive coalitions that left you ready to believe in something, and running the sort of blog that made you want to do something all without ever around an inkling of awareness from the higher-ups. Total Information Awareness has long kept an eye on her and now, as a warning strike, they jacked up her property taxes and forced her out of her job. Man. That's some bullshit, yo. So head on over there, buy her some nice things, drop her some cool bucks, or, if you're in the Chicago area, give her a sweet job. You can use me as reference -- there's no one I'd recommend more highly. And that dadgum guv'mint better get off her back. Otherwise, we'll have to take a page out of Shakes's book and organize, forming a fund to send Matthew Lesko out to get some of money back.
  • AEI Hackery

    I wish people would stop saying things like this . From the description for AEI's new book on health care: America’s health-care system is the envy of the world, but it faces serious challenges. No, no it's not. The developed world is packed with better health care systems than ours while the developing world knows it wouldn't be covered under our incarnation, it'd have to turn towards our Medicaid/Medicare attempts to copy European systems that they could simply covet instead. Much easier to slice out the middle man there and just envy France. In fact, Americans don't even want our health care system. It's not like we can't dig up numbers on this. Indeed, you just have to surf over to PollingReport for the polls: "Canada has a universal health care system run by the government that covers all people. Compared to Canada, do you think the overall health care system in the United States is better, worse or about the same?" Better: 29% Worse: 37% Same: 23% Unsure: 11% For those...

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